Use Your Illusions

by Timothy Lusch

Use ’em or Lose ’em

Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell

So we all know who this guy is. Animal Farm. 1984. Some of us may have even read the books. Many more have only used the words “Orwellian” or “Big Brother” without reading his work. But Orwell is so much more. In his novels, essays, and letters, Orwell persistently punctures language bloated with meaninglessness, the egos of the ruling classes, and the pretensions of those who demand radical change so long as it doesn’t apply to them. In Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Orwell mocks the pretensions of slick sounding socialists who, not being poor themselves, esteem poverty over middle-class virtues. Especially in the character of the wealthy socialist Ravelston, Orwell demonstrates the dangers of unthinking utopian theorists. For every speech Bernie Sanders gave, there was a person waiting in a food line in the socialist hell of Venezuela. Orwell, no lover of unbridled capitalism either, reserved particular scorn for those social doctors who offer prescriptions they themselves would never take. This particular book is filled with humor and hunger, ideas and idiots, slogans and sentiment. It is a neglected work, though one that remains relevant today. Clarity only comes when we lose our illusions.

Gordon and his friends had quite an exciting time with their ‘subversive ideas’. For a whole year they ran an unofficial monthly paper called the Bolshevik, duplicated with jellygraph. It advocated Socialism, free love, the dismemberment of the British Empire, the abolition of the Army and Navy, and so on and so forth. It was great fun. Every intelligent boy of sixteen is a Socialist. At that age one does not see the hook sticking out of the rather stodgy bait.